What 2019 has in Store for Google Ads and SEO

Guest Blogger: Synapse Search, an Auckland based Search Marketing company

The only thing constant for SEO is change. Those Google search algorithms keep changing and the way people use their devices keeps swiftly moving forwards to match the technology.

Make sure your site is ready for 2019 by having an SEO overhaul, starting afresh for the year.

Mobile Use

More and more people are using mobiles to search for what they need. Google is embracing this both in SEO and Google Ads.

 
Mobile smartphone
 

For Google Ads, you can now decouple bidding from desktop and have stand-alone mobile bids. Because people use their mobiles in a different way from desktop, this makes sense. Google are also using in-store conversion tracking- if someone looks for you online, they can be tracked into your store, making your Google Ads data much more useful, being able to see physical visits as well as digital ones.

For SEO, Google is going to start indexing and ranking the mobile version of your page. For a long time, Google has been warning businesses that their sites have to be mobile-friendly, but now it’s imperative. If you want your site to rank, it MUST have responsive design. Make sure it’s fast to load, easy to navigate and works across a variety of screen sizes.

Brands are More Important Than Ever

Having a presence online is more than just a Google listing or throwing a website up. It’s about cultivating a brand across channels, including social media. Each mention of your brand helps Google understand your identity a bit more. Start building a great brand. Work on getting high-quality backlinks from reputable sites. Mention your brand name online, even without linking it, when an opportunity presents itself. Use social media influencers to talk about you and your brand.

Remember with these strategies, you want positive, ethical mentions. Don’t harass influencers, but provide helpful quality information when it’s relevant. Engage with people and work on improving what you can offer them. Too often, you see brands doing it wrong and it’s never appreciated.

UX (User Experience Design)

Having great UX is not a new thing. Did you know that if your site takes longer than three seconds to load, you’re going to lose about 40% of your visitors. Count it out…. One, two, three, and FORTY percent of your customers have gone to your competitors. (this is laughable for those people who remember dial-up internet and leaving a page to load while you went and made a coffee).

You could have the best SEO rankings in the world or an amazing ad, but when people click through and your site doesn’t load quick enough, all that effort is for nothing. Tied in with the growth of mobile devices used as browsers, mobile page loading speed is now a ranking factor too.

 
UX quote.png
 

Work on increasing your optimisation score. Avoid landing page redirects, compress your images, improve server response time (having a locally hosted site helps with this), minify resources, optimise CSS delivery, and leverage browser caching. This guide offers a good resource for those of you wanting to do this step-by-step.

You also need to make sure your website works. Wave goodbye to dead links, throw out Adobe Flash and make sure embedded videos or maps work.

Featured Snippets

Your search engine results are being tweaked. Google Ads are taking up a lot more space and images are being added. Possibly the most important real estate is those ‘featured snippets’ that is the image and text that pop up in a box directly underneath the search box. Heading into 2019, they are going to be more and more important. So how do you get your site to be a ‘featured snippet’?

Having a FAQ/ Q&A page on your site is a good start, this is a prime opportunity to ask long-tail exact match keywords that don’t naturally fit in copy anywhere else. Have tables of structured information that are easily accessible by Google and that answers the question.

Content is Still King

Every year, this becomes more important. Your website could be the best in your industry, but if you don’t have much content or it’s poorly written, Google doesn’t know that. You need to work on building content that:

1)     Is clear, easy for customers to understand, and provides value, and

2)     Is keyword rich.

But make sure you write to satisfy these things in that order. If you stuff your page with keywords, Google’s algorithms know and will punish you. Write for people first, then optimise it for search engines. Aim to write the best blogs and articles on the internet and consistently publish great content.

Voice Search

More and more people are using voice search instead of the traditional typing in questions. Up to 40% of searches are becoming voice searches (for more voice search stats, read this Synapse Search blob post). This means more longtail keywords and in the form of questions. While Google still very cleverly understands what people are wanting and will provide great assistance, exact match longtail keywords will always win over more generic searches.

 
voice search
 

SEO and Google Ads Checklist for 2019

  • Work on featured snippets

  • Optimise your content

  • Think about long tail keywords

  • Make your page load faster

  • Fix broken things on your site for a seamless experience

  • Optimise your site for mobile first

  • Work on your brand by providing quality mentions and backlinks across reputable sites

If you’re unsure about anything, ask the professionals to help. A little bit of advice can go a long way to setting you on the path to SEO greatness.